Another one bites the dust?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 6 16:12:47 UTC 2007

>I've often heard "a phenomena" and "a criteria,"  and last night on
>the news someone spoke of "a paparazzi." We deal here with a
>tendency (not a law, though, of course) to shift the plural to the
>singular. I've noticed many more examples over the years, but they
>don't come to mind at the moment.  Maybe it's time to compile them.
>Gerald Cohen

A colleague of mine is engaged on a no doubt quixotic quest to
convince local restaurateurs to refer to their grilled sandwich
option as a panin*o*, since it's not actually named for the Sanskrit
grammarian.  Of course it's fine if they offer panini, as long as
they don't do so one at a time.  (Similarly, we might hear "a
ravioli" in the context of one (raviolo) falling onto the floor.

I don't see this as a shift of the plural to the singular as much as
a reanalysis of an opaque plural form as a singular; maybe that's a
notational equivalent to how you're describing it.


>>  ----------
>>  From:         American Dialect Society on behalf of Benjamin Barrett
>>  Reply To:     American Dialect Society
>>  Sent:         Wednesday, September 5, 2007 11:36 PM
>>  Subject:           Re: Another one bites the dust?
>>  My chiropractor says that as well. My real estate agent says "an
>>  addenda". I know that my real estate agent knows the difference; surely
>>  my chiropractor does as well. BB
>>  Wilson Gray wrote:
>>  > Heard on CSI:
>>  >
>>  > [Holding up a bone]: "Looks like a human _vertebrae_."
>>  >
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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